Starting big man Wendell Carter Jr. sat for the third consecutive game in the Orlando Magic’s home matchup against the Utah Jazz, but he’s hoping that’s the last game he’ll be sidelined for.

Carter told the Orlando Sentinel ahead of Thursday’s game that he’s planning to return to the lineup Saturday vs. the Miami Heat at Amway Center, the last game of the four-game homestand.

He missed Sunday’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers and Tuesday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks because of hip pain.

Carter told the Sentinel he started feeling the pain in his hip and groin areas after the team returned to Central Florida from last week’s three-game road trip.

He was seen going through on-court exercises after the team’s Thursday morning shootaround.

Carter told the Sentinel he’s feeling good before saying his hope is to return Saturday, which ultimately depends on how he responds to treatment.

“He’s doing everything they’re asking him to do to get him back right,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “He’s going to continue to be monitored on how he responds to each thing.”

Moe Wagner has started in place of Carter the last three games and has been productive, averaging 16.5 points (61.1% shooting), 7.5 rebounds and 2 assists in the losses to the Bucks and Blazers.

Goga Bitadze has made the most of his minutes as the backup big with Carter out and Wagner starting, averaging 8 points and 5 rebounds in 13.2 minutes in the two games.

But there’s been a notable dip in the Magic’s defense without Carter.

Orlando had defensive ratings (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 120 or worse in the losses to the Blazers and Bucks. The Spurs’ league-worst defense allows 119.6 points per 100 possessions.

It didn’t help that starting guard Gary Harris also sat for the previous two games because of a sore left adductor. Harris was back in the lineup against the Jazz.

“A big portion of it is his instincts,” Mosley responded when asked what Carter does defensively that’s difficult to replicate. “He does such a tremendous job of knowing different situations and coverages. His ability to move his feet in guarding some of the most dynamic bigs as well as being able to switch on to some of these quicker guards. He does a great job of that.

“You put that as a combination in the pick and roll with those guards coming off, he’s …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


Wendell Carter Jr. aiming to return for Magic’s Saturday game vs. Heat

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